In February this year I had the fantastic opportunity to visit LA (Los Angeles) in the USA. I had never been to America before and it was always a dream of mine to experience LA ‘in real life’ for myself. It was a kind of a spur of the moment thing actually. My cousin (who is also one of my best friends) and her husband were planning to head to LA with a few other guys to produce an album that their band had recorded. When I saw them over New Year’s during a quick getaway to Sydney, they mentioned that they were going and said “you should come along!”. So, I quickly booked my tickets, booked some accommodation, handed in my leave form to work and before I knew it, I was on a plane heading to the fabulous USA, destination LA!
It was the absolute best time! LA has such a unique culture. It’s bustling and busy and it has so much to offer, so much to see & do. It seemed that so many of the people that we came into contact with were there to “make it”, to make a name for themselves, to be recognised and it really struck me. I guess it was a bit of a culture shock for me because I come from a world away and I’m pretty much a plain Jane average kind of person who really hasn’t ever been driven to make a name for myself. No aspirations of fame and fortune for me!
That being said, I was a little star struck too – I mean, we were in Hollywood. The place where dreams are made. I’d seen so many of the iconic sites on movies and T.V. and now I was here in person and it was surreal. We went to Universal Studios; drove up the mountains to view the “Hollywood” sign; went to Dalby Theatre (where they were setting up for the Oscars); drove on Sunset Blvd, Rodeo Drive and toured Beverly Hills; walked on Santa Monica Pier; took a day trip up to San Francisco to see the Golden Gate Bridge with my own eyes; and explored all the sights we could possibly pack into the 8 days that I was there for; finally, we took in a glorious sunset at Venice Beach.
On the second last day that I was in wonderful LA, our little group decided to spend the afternoon and evening at Venice Beach and take in the beach-side culture. It was fascinating. The vibe of the beach stalls, buskers, skaters, tourists and natives all meshing into one big vibrant atmosphere. We walked along the beat for hours, looking at all the wares in the little shanty shops and side-walk stalls, almost getting run over by topless guys rushing past on skate boards, then almost getting taken out by fast-moving cyclists in the bike lane that we were obliviously walking along in. There were people from all walks of life on that beach-side that day. We saw beggars and we saw the rich & ritzy drinking their glasses of champagne, all within metres of each other. It was quite an awesome experience and I was completely and entirely engrossed in people watching (one of my all time favourite pastimes).
We stayed on Venice Beach as the stall holders were packing up and the foot traffic started to die down. We were told (or advised) that it was probably a good idea to start moving along home soon as this was gang territory after dark and quite a dangerous place to be (especially as naive Aussie tourists). We started ambling back towards our car and then got a glimpse of the captivating sunset. We all starting walking towards the water’s edge and the five of us just stood there, snapping away on our cameras and silently watching the view before us as the Sun was setting across the ocean knowing that our home-land was on the other side of those waters. Our families were just waking up with the sunrise and a new day while we were seeing the closing of our day.
I stood there reflecting and at that moment I felt so many things. Thoughts and emotions racing through me. I felt lonely, missing my husband & kids, yet so privileged to be here and to experience this. I reflected on how big the world really is. The wonder of creation and the awesomeness of our Creator. And as I was standing there lost in my mind, it struck me, the stillness, the quiet, the peacefulness. In the last 8 days, the whole time since I left my house in Queensland to board a plane to Melbourne to meet up with our crew to head to LA I couldn’t recall a moment of quiet. There was noise & bustle everywhere and I hadn’t even realised. Not until that moment, when there were no sounds. No people talking, no cars rushing past, no gushing waves, no noise. It was absolutely still. Incredibly so, like we had just walked into some kind of sound-proof box or the twilight zone or something. So surreal.
And then, I heard the still, quiet voice of God. “Selah” was all I heard. Selah to me means “pause and ponder for a moment” or “stop and meditate on it”. In all the joy, excitement and busyness of the last few days, I hadn’t taken a moment. In all the hustle and bustle, of people, activities, places to go, things to do and see, it was really easy to get lost in it all. I took that moment to stop and just let it all soak over me. To rest in the stillness, in the quiet, in the moment. To acknowledge and appreciate God and take in His splendour, His creation, and listen to Him speak to me, to let His presence wash over me. I had a Selah moment right there on Venice Beach that glorious day, as I watched the stillness of the sunset.
I think we all need to be reminded of that. In everyday life, it’s so easy to be busy, distracted and caught up in everything going on around us. We fail to just ‘pause and ponder’, to take a moment and reflect. To think about where we’ve been and where we’re going. To listen to His still, small voice. To acknowledge God’s greatness in our lives, to listen to His word, His plan and His direction for our life. So, go on, take a moment to stop and meditate, pause and ponder, find a quiet, still place and Selah.